Nervous Democrats Eye May Special Elections
Politico is reporting that Democratic strategists are nervous about upcoming special elections in Hawaii and Pennsylvania. Both seats have been held by Democrats for years – Neil Abercombie in Hawaii, who is running for Governor (not Senate as originally posted – sorry for the typo – Guy) and the recently deceased John Murtha in Pennsylvania. Democrats fear that circumstances unique to these congressional districts could spur Republican wins next month. If that were to happen the national media might portray the elections as indications that there is a nation-wide anti-Obama mood, which might lead to widespread Democratic losses in November.
In Hawaii, fears of a Republican victory in a Democratic seat are spurred by a contested Democratic field in an election where a candidate can win with the plurality of the vote. The candidates in the race are Democratic State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, Democratic ex-State Rep. Ed Case and Republican businessman Charles Djou. Hanabusa enjoys the support of Sens. Akaka and Inouye as well as EMILY’s List and organized labor. However, recent polls show Case with a lead. Democratic strategists worry that Case and Hanabusa will split the Democratic vote allowing Djou to emerge as the victor. Recent days have seen reports that the DCCC is signaling support for Case and encouraging others to drop their support of Hanabusa in his favor.
In Pennsylvania there is a fear that John Murtha won election yar after year by virtue of his personal popularity while the congressional district on its own trended toward Republicans. McCain carried Murtha’s disctrict in the 2008 elections – one of the few districts that went for Kerry in 2004 that he won. The Democratic candidate is Mark Critz, a former McCain staffer. Strategists worry that in an anti-incumbent mood, Critz may be seen as a Washington DC insider, allowing Republican businessman Tim Burns to eke out a narrow victory.
Top Target, Top Fundraiser
Freshman Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey is one of the Republican party’s top House targets this cycle. She was even singled out recently by Sarah Palin as one of the top twenty Democrats to beat. Markey’s support of health care reform, cap and trade and the economic stimulus while representing a battleground district have made her a lightning rod for Republican attacks.
In spite of, or perhaps because of, this attention form the hard right, Markey is raising the kind of serious campaign cash she needs to stay competitive an turn back a Republican challenge. Markey’s latest FEC reports show her raising $505k in March, $355k in just the last ten days.
Markey is now sitting on $869k in her campaign accounts, compared to her Republican opponent, Cory Gardner’s $383k.
Markey needs to keep up this kind of pace to stay competitive for November. You can support her here.
Rangel Primary Challenger Keeping It In The Family
New York Rep. Charlie Rangel will face a challenger in the Democratic primary. Adam Clayton Powell IV announced his candidacy last week. If the name seems familiar, it is because Rangel’s seat was held for years by Powell’s father, Adam Clayton Powell III, before he was unseated by Rangel in the 1970 Democratic primary. Powell is likely to criticize Rangel for his recent brushes with the House Ethics Committee.
And Now My Wife Is Comin’ After Me
We blogged a few weeks ago that retiring Rep. Dennis Moore’s (D-KS) might run to replace him. Stephene Moore has since confirmed the rumors and declared herself a candidate for the open seat. This is widely seen as a good development for Democrats, as Mrs. Moore is viewed as the current front-runner.
Scandal in Sestak Seat
In the open seat created by Rep. Joe Sestak’s (D-PA) decision to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, the Democratic candidate is crying foul over the Republican’s nomination petitions.
State Rep. Bryan Lentz (D) has ex-U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan’s (R) nomination petition drive a “bush league conspiracy.” Lentz claims that many of the signatures on the petitions Meehan submitted to qualify for the race are fake. Lentz also claims that the signatures of campaign workers and volunteers appear multiple times and on petitions they admit never having signed. Although state officials are already looking into the matter, Lentz wants it referred to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Meehan’s attorney called the allegations “theater of the absurd” and claims the DoJ has no jurisdiction in the matter.
It is unlikely that Lentz will succeed in getting Meehan disqualified from the ballot. It is more likely that the allegations are aimed at painting Meehan as a corrupt political insider – an association that could be particularly damaging this election cycle. Press reports indicate Lentz may be meeting with some success. The Delware County Daily Times cited Meehan’s “reputation for integrity” and asked, “Does Meehan want to be linked in the public mind to a culture of political corruption?”